Tag Archives: Logic

The Evolution on Concepts

6 Apr

The concept of a claw hammer did not just pop into the human mind from out of non-existence.

First was the concept of a rock.

Somewhere someone realized you could pound with a rock. Perhaps this person broke nuts open with a rock.
The first stage of the concept of a hammer was born.

Somewhere someone threw a rock at something. Perhaps it was a nut in a tree. Trying to knock it down.
The first stage of the concept of a rocket was born.

Somewhere someone used a stick. Perhaps it was to dig beetles out of the ground.
The first stages of the concept of a fork and a spear were born.

Somewhere someone put a rock on the end of a stick.
The second stage of the concept of a hammer was born.

Just as humanity evolved as a species so did humanities concepts.

And here is a crucial fact:
Every concept humanity has ever developed has survival value.
I have never found a single concept that did not have survival value at the time it was conceived. Some of those concepts have had counter survival value when circumstances changed and select humans refused to revise their concepts. But every human concept has survival value in the right circumstances.

I state that concepts evolve.
This is easily demonstrated. Scientific concepts show a clear path of evolution.

Other creatures also have concepts.
Look at dogs and cats. They both have a concept of what is food and what is not food. They share a concept of humanity as a source of food and shelter.
Obviously there was a time when humans were not sources of food and shelter for either dogs or cats. At that time dogs and cats would not have this concept of humans. This concept had to grow over time.
This simple demonstration shows not only that animals do have concepts but also shows that their concepts also evolve.
In this we are not alone.

We can look at a bug as having a concept of what food is. Of what a predator is. In the case of ants and bees they must have some concept of home and community. Perhaps nothing like we humans have, but something that suffices.

It can be said that certain plants, those that turn their leaves or flowers toward the sun as it passes, have some rudimentary concept of pleasure if nothing else. It might be nothing more than warmth.

Each creature has exactly the number, or set (if you will) of concepts that it needs to survive.

The Concept Line™ starts at the vaguest sensory awareness.
A plant has, through warmth, light, or some other means, a sensory awareness of the sun. We know this because so many plants visibly react to the sun.
Whether the plant has any sensory memory of the sun when it is not present is something we cannot determine with any current or proposed technology I am aware of. However it has been demonstrated that plants discharge measurable energy when in the presence of someone who has abused them, say torn off their limbs.
Thus we can contend that plants have a rudimentary concept of pain and pleasure.

Moving along the concept line we can show that insects have a rudimentary concept of food and predator.
We know this simply because any bug will go after that which it considers food, be it a leaf or another bug, and will avoid, and or fight, those things that will in turn eat them.

Many fish live in schools. Some insects live in hives. This indicates a rudimentary sense of community.
Primates go so far as to show complex social structure and even politics.

Humanities concepts have not only evolved, but can be traced through anthropology.

Even more interestingly the human evolution of concepts can be demonstrated in its children. A baby has the most minimum concepts possible for a human being to have. As the child develops physical abilities and experience more concepts develop. For example babies are not born with depth perception, it develops later, and even then it takes time and experience for a child to judge exactly how far away an object is. Then even more time to judge how much time it will take the object, say a car, to reach them at a given speed.

However having a concept is not sufficient.

In fact having a concept, in and of itself, is only a survival mechanism only up to a point in the evolutionary ladder.
At some point what is done with concepts is more important than having concepts.

Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
I say the unexamined concept is not worth having.

So at the far end of our Concept Line™ , not at the very end, we mark a point at which concepts are not simply held, they are manipulated.

 

 

 
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Extending the Concept of Hammers

16 Feb

Hopefully now we are at a point where we can see the world as an interconnected, conceptual map, that we can navigate from point to point. Not simply in a simple line from, say black to white, with lots of  shades of greys and grays in between, but closer akin to a map of say a state.

The map of a state will show large towns, the capital, small towns, country sides, forests, and roads leading from one place to another.

So let us try this with hammers.

The capital would be the claw hammer, the most common kind.

A claw hammer has a handle to hold onto, a head that, in most cases bats the head of a nail, forcing the nail into a piece of wood. This most often joins two pieces of wood together.

Fully concepting this idea of a hammer as an item with a handle to be held and a head that does work we can conceive of an axe as an anti-hammer that splits the wood apart. It is still a hammer, it is an axe hammer, and it normally does the opposite of what a hammer normally does.

Interestingly grammar, as well as Aristotlean Logic, make it difficult for people to make the connection between the two.

Example: You can hammer with a hammer, but you can’t axe with an axe. You have to chop with an axe, even though you can turn a single-headed axe over and use it as a sledge-hammer.

This insistence that words must be used in certain ways because “you can’t” hammer with an axe or chop with a hammer, and “you have to” say it right or you are stupid, ignorant, or…Forces people into rigid reasoning patterns that reflect the either/or approach of logic.

Humans have hands at the ends of their arms and feet at the ends of their legs. Animals have paws, or hooves, — And Grammar Gurus actually talk as though humans DO have arms and hands and feet and animals actually DO have paws or hooves, or whatever.

And they don’t.

Humans have appendages we have names for.

Animals have appendages we have names for.

The reason they are so different is not so much because of biology but because of The Human Superiority Complex. Many humans feel they are too good to have paws and animals are not worthy to have feet. What save many humans from going into severe emotional trauma over monkeys, apes, etc is their lack of opposable thumbs — “Ah,” these people say, “Humanity is saved. It is still the superior species and is grammatically entitled to hands whilst those poor beasts have to survive with mere paws.”

This is fine for those who are Grammatically, and perhaps Logically, Pure, but a Map Thinker™ must grapple with the reality that hands, feet, paws, and hooves, are all both conceptually the same at one end of the concept line and conceptually different at the other end.

While it is not conceptually valid to speak of a horse swatting at an annoying dog with its hand, it is conceptually valid to say it swatted at the dog with its foot.

While it is normally not conceptually valid to say “My son grasped his glass of milk with his hoof”, it is conceptually valid to say “My son pranced in from the backyard on all four hooves neighing at me in convincing horseness.” Once it is established the child has been horsing around it would be both conceptually valid and humorous to say “He sat at the breakfast table and grasped his glass of milk with his hoof.”

As you can easily see  Conceptually Based Grammar™ would be far different from our currently Logically Based form of Grammar. For one thing it would have to be far less prescriptive and far more fluid, that is, creative. It would also be accommodating to humor as a natural consequence of Conceptually Based Grammar™ rather than an aberration from Logically Based Grammar.

By now we all should be able to see that by discarding Logic and Logically Based Grammar and adopting Conceptually Based Reasoning™ and Conceptually Based Grammar™ which are both necessary to Map Thinking™ we can easily see that our Individual Creative Potential increases exponentially.

This is done by the simple expedient of discarding the two most standard limits to our everyday thinking.

I’m going to let this blog chapter rest here.

What I want you to do is to take a week, or at least a day, and see just how far, and in what directions you can extend the concept of “Hammer” for yourself.

Hopefully you will do a better job than I.

© 2014  all rights reserved

Calling All Hammers

11 Jan

Some people may find this section a bit complex. In order to discuss the simple, lowly, hammer in a way that will effectively relate to Map Thinking™ we must take on several subjects. Prescriptive Grammar and how it conjoins with Aristotlean Logic to limit our thinking rather than to expand it. Hand in hand with this we must explore a concept in Transformational Grammar called “Deep Structure”. But we will explore the latter in a slightly different way than “normal”. We will do it Mapologically™. That is we will, almost automatically discuss “Surface Structure”, what it is and why it exists. Something I have not seen tackled in my readings of Transformation Grammar. A pugnacious oversight in my opinion. (Note: The term “deep structure” doesn’t seem to be in vogue right now and I used it in a slightly different way than it is used in transformational grammar. We’ll get into that later.)

 

 

Yeah, I know. A hammer is a hammer.

What is so complicated about that?

 

We have a thing. We call this thing a hammer. From now on that is its name: Hammer.

We have named an object. A very specific object. When people say “Hammer” they normally mean an everyday claw hammer.

 

There are other kinds. In order to fully understand mapping we must understand both these other kinds of hammers and this thing called “deep structure”.

But first:

We will discuss some of the various kinds of hammers.

 

Claw hammers, most common, used by most people. Has one flat side to hit nails with and a claw on the other side to pull out the nails we have mishammered. (Oh, and please forgive me, [the] Gods of Grammar — No such word as “mishammered” has been ordained by them to exist — Therefore it MUST NOT be used even though everyone understands its meaning immediately. My sins I do confess.)

Normal people using their naturally grown Mapping skills and Deep Structure connections they will use a normal claw hammer for a lot of “inappropriate” things. Such as perhaps to use the claw for a screwdriver, or a hoe to dig in the dirt, or the wooden handle to widen a hole in drywall, or even the edge t the top of the handle to scrape away paint.

Superior people, who have mastered the concept of “Logical Necessity” are horrified by these sacrileges against surface structure. They will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that “Hammers are hammers” and “They are not designed for those tasks.”.

 

But hammers are used for some pretty odd things.

 

Roofing hammers actually look more like hatchets than claw hammers. At least on the “Claw” end.

It is possible some genius got tired of being told they were using the claw inappropriately and invented a better claw to do the job. Or it may have happened some other way.

Doesn’t matter. Point made.

 

Ball Pein hammers have an entirely different use. It is normally used to beat metal into shape. Auto body repair people rely on them extensively.

 

Logically this makes a Ball Pein hammer one thing and a Claw Hammer another, entirely different thing.

 

This is in fact surface structure. Using surface structure, in the form of Logic, we can deny there is any similarity between the two at all. A proponent of surface structure, stated as logic, will tell you, “A claw hammer is a claw hammer and a ball pein hammer is a ball pein hammer. Two entirely different things. They are used in two different ways to accomplish two different functions.”

Logical necessity forces us to agree.

A more linguistically centered approach would recognize that on a deeper level of thinking we understand that both objects are in fact the same in some way. They are both hammers, as their name implies.

 

The innate Fallacy of Logic is its assumption that extreme Surface Structural Thinking™ is The Superior way to reason.

It is in fact inferior.

The innate Fallacy of Linguistics is its assumption that Surface Structural Thinking™ is The Natural Way to Think and that Deep Structural Thinking™ is some complex function of the inner mind that must somehow be unraveled.

It is in fact simple and natural, but it is suppressed.

 

The next blog will introduce you to yet more hammers, and the opportunity to expand your map.

 

 

©2014, all rights reserved

 

 

 

 

Understanding the Concept Line™

25 Nov

When you discuss logic, in any form, you discuss words, definitions, and meanings. In logic the first thing you HAVE to do if you are going to have a meaningful discussion is to define your terms. That is to make sure everyone involved in the discussion knows, or believes they know, exactly what they are talking about.

On the other hand when you discuss Mapological™ thinking, you must concentrate, not on words, but on the concepts involved.

Thus the concept line™.

Therefore the first term we must determine, and agree on, is What a Concept is. And what relationship it has to words, definitions, meanings, and ideas.

I shall do this by tackling what is considered a major Philosophical / Theological issue. There are three aspects of this journey we are taking: What is Evil? Why does Evil exist? Is Evil necessary?

But before we discuss such a “lofty” concept let us set some ground rules by tackling a very mundane concept.

One there can be no doubt about. A hammer. You can look at a hammer. Touch a hammer. Hold a hammer. Swing a hammer. Smell a hammer. You can taste a hammer if you like. I would recommend cleaning it thoroughly first.

Few things can be considered more mundane than a hammer.

As a word it is very specific. It has a head, usually made of metal, attached at right angles to a handle, often made of wood. It is most often used to pound nails into wood with.

The word hammer is a concrete noun.

Evil, on the other hand is an abstract noun.

While you may be able to point to examples of it that every human being will agree is Evil, you will never be able to put it in your tool belt and carry it to the job site with you.

Thus the next blog will begin our exploration of Evil by looking at the lowly, totally innocent hammer.

Why Would YOU Think Like Aristotle?

26 Oct

So why would anyone, you, I, or the person down the street, the big shot in the office, the bag person pushing a shopping cart  — Why would they, or anyone else, think like, or want to think like Aristotle?

The reason is simple: Because we are human.

Aristotle no doubt believed he came up with a higher form of reasoning. His followers, even to this day, tend to believe that Aristotlean Logic is a higher form of reasoning, largely due to the complex nature of its exceptions.  Fallacies, they are called.

So what is a Fallacy?

Its simplest definition is an error in reasoning: On the surface the argument looks as though it is reasonable and logical, but when compared to empirical data the answer simply does not fit.

The easiest fallacy to uncover results from not closely defining the terms being used. Often these are accidental. If you don’t realize that bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, and protozoa, are all called germs: If you don’t realize that some of these are good for you, then you are prone to making fallacies about them yourself or to accepting fallacies about them from others.

This is where questions come in. Even when you know that germs are a category, not things themselves, and even when you know that some are good for you and some are bad for you and some are indifferent — it does not hurt to ask yourself, or the person you are talking too, “Exactly what do we mean by that?”

Why Logic is so difficult to master is because there are so many potential fallacies that have been identified. The lowest number of known fallacies I have ever heard is ninety-nine.  The largest number is over a thousand.

In order to be a logician you need to not only recognize a fallacy, you need to be able to implement it; that is find it and correct it.

The reason why there are so many exceptions in Logic; the reason why there are so many fallacies is not because Logic is complex, but because it is simplistic. It way over simplifies so that our minds, which are incapable of handling the full extent of reality, can deal with, manipulate, and understand reality.

Once we understand that Logic is simplified reasoning, one that is not in any way connected too, or representative of reality, then we can use it to good effect. We take a tiny piece of our insanely complex universe, make it bite size so our brain can deal with it, and then discuss it as though it were real. We can refine our definition to the point where it can be understood and manipulated. We can discuss specific bacteria strains, or domestic cats, without constantly worrying that this small segment of reality is not representative of all reality, even though we are aware of the fact.

Once that is done we can use Logic.

Basically Logic is a system of drawing lines around the various parts of the universe and declaring “This is This and That is That”.

It is important to realize that neither This nor That really exist in and of themselves.

A dog is NOT a dog. There is a self animated fur-bearing thing out there in reality that we call a dog. Dogs share DNA with cats and humans. When we talk about dogs we often do not even realize we are discussing domestic dogs and much of what we say does not apply to their wild cousins. So we can discuss German Shepherds or Border Collies as opposed to Tea Cup Poodles or Chihuahuas.

I am aware I am beating a point in the head here, but it needs to be absorbed.

When we are using Logic we are not talking about “Things” we are talking about our definitions of “Things”. The things themselves do not exist independently or out of context with any of the other things the universe is composed of. The fact things can be treated as though they are separate entities allows humans the ability “Think” about them: To manipulate ideas about them: To, as far as humanly possible, understand them.

We never really know, no can we ever know, exactly what we are talking about. But we can arrange our definitions is such a way that we can discuss them as though we did know.

The problems of reasoning happen when we forget that Logic, Things, or Events, and our understanding of them, are all artificial constructs that allow us as humans to function within a universe we cannot fully comprehend.

© 2013 All Rights Reserved.

Quick Review # 1

4 May

If you have born with me through the last blogs you now have three simple, easy to learn, easy to use, actually fun, tools that will enable you to cut through garbage thinking.

Lets look at them.

PoPo™.

PoPo™ stands for the Principle of Progressive obscurity.

The idea here is simple and easy enough for any child to comprehend. The more specific, the more concrete, the subject you are talking about the more you know exactly what you are talking about.

Little Mr. PerfectIf you are talking about a specific dog, say the Chihuahua in the picture, the more you can know about that dog. We can say he is an older dog. That he is a Chihuahua, you can count his teeth, discuss his penchant for eating fresh tomatoes out of his mistress’s garden, etc.

You can learn a lot about this specific Chihuahua.

The problem is all this information will tell you little about Chihuahuas in general.

You can guess that not all Chihuahuas will like to pluck tomatoes out of the garden and munch them but you can’t know how common that impulse is among the breed.

You can learn a lot about Chihuahuas in general, but all of this information will only tell you what to expect if you deal with a sizable section of Chihuahuas. It will not tell you a lot about what to expect in any particular Chihuahua. The particular Chihuahua might very well be atypical.

This is a sort of Heisenberg Principle of Language.

The more you know about the concrete object you can see, smell, taste, touch, and hear, the less you know about the larger, more general case.

The larger the general case the less you know about the concrete, specific instance of that case.

Thus you can know a lot of things about dogs in general.

But that knowledge will only give you general clues to the nature of any specific breed of dogs. The group of dogs called Chihuahuas may be very atypical in some respects to other breeds and any one Chihuahua may be atypical of its breed.

Keeping PoPo™ in mind helps you to realize how little or how much you know at any given time about the subject you are talking about. It also gives you insight into how much the speaker you are listening too actually knows what they are talking about.

Politics and advertising are rife with slogans that have no meaning.

Wittgenstein has this to say: “What can be said, can be said with clarity: What can’t be said, must remain unsaid … The language defines the limit, beyond that limit is nonsense.”

I call it the Wittgenstein Wall™.

Clarity to a certain degree depends on who is speaking and who is being spoken too.

A pair of electronics engineers will talk together in terms that would confuse the average electronics technician let alone a lay person. The key is they would both know exactly what the other is saying and be able to explain to the lay person what was being said.

Business people, on the other hand, often speak to each other in jargon so obtuse they find it impossible to explain to a lay person with any precision what it is they are talking about.

Lets take a look at ads.

One of my favorite is, “Genuine old fashioned (insert [I’m thinking peanut butter]product) now new and improved”.

WTBDTM?

It is nonsense.

It is also humorous. (I find it funny).

But it sold (¿peanut butter?).

If you approach the sentence, “Genuine old fashioned product now new and improved.” From a logical standpoint “Genuine old fashioned” and “new and improved” openly contradict each other. Which is true.

When you look at the sentence from a word for word standpoint you realize none of the words have real meaning.

What does “genuine” mean?

Real. True. Correct. Honest. Authentic.

How is it used?

As a modifier. It has no “genuine” meaning until it is given something to mean. Genuine peanut butter. Genuine butter. Genuine wool. Genuine milk.

WTBDTM?

Genuine anything is anything with genuine in front of it.

It does imply that other peanut butters, other soaps, other milks, are not genuine. It implies they are fake.

But why?

Several things are going on here and logic cannot encompass them.

But Logic, or at least the penchant for the either / or aspect of pseudo logical does help to explain what is going on. I say pseudo logical because Logic, as used by someone who knows and understands the intricacies of logic, such as a professor of philosophy, will automatically compensate for Aristotle’s “excluded middle”. In other words the less a person knows about genuine Logic the more apt they are to believe that stating everything in “either – or” statements are Logical.

So people, consciously, or subconsciously, who have not broken the socially trained instinct for “either-or” thinking will respond to “genuine peanut butter” as though it were the genuine article and other peanut butters were not.

In truth the law defines what can or cannot be called peanut butter.

So…

The law and I disagree about what “real” peanut butter is.

Why?

The law says peanut butter does not have to have any peanut oil in it. All the peanut oil can be taken out and substituted with cheaper, less healthy, oils — And by law it can still be called peanut butter.

When dealing with the law one has to be very aware of PoPo™.

Legal definitions come about because there has been a legal disagreement in the past that was decided in a court of law. The legal definition that was decided upon may not be the one you would think or expect.

Most people assume that once they divorce their spouse their mother-in-law is no longer their mother-in-law.

Wrong.

I know of no way to un-mother-in-law a woman once she has been mother-in-lawed in. If you have had eight spouses and divorced every one of them then you have eight mothers-in-law.

Happy family reunion.

© 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

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